The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Compliance is a core aspect of fleet management, and commercial fleet owners must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines.

One of the critical parts of the FMCSA guidelines is the ELD mandate. ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and the mandate dictates that specific types of commercial motor vehicles must have one installed.

ELDs benefit both drivers and fleet owners by recording crucial data related to the driver and vehicle. This helps reduce administrative work and improves fleet safety.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about ELDs — what they are, how they work, the data they record, why they’re crucial for compliance, and their benefits for fleet owners.

What is an ELD?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is hardware that is plugged into a vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) port. It records location, speed, driving hours, miles driven, and other data.

Under the ELD mandate set by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), commercial vehicles must have an ELD installed depending on the size of the vehicle, distance traveled, etc.

CalAmp provides ELDs for fleets

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ELDs make it easy to keep accurate Hours Of Service (HOS) records. It can also help with Driver Verification and Inspection Reporting (DVIR). What’s more, fleet operators and owners can use ELDs to maintain their Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores.

All the information collected by the ELD can be viewed by truck drivers and fleet managers using the software. This makes it convenient to collect and act on the correct data, thus improving fleet safety and productivity.

Combining an advanced ELD with a telematics solution can help your fleet go the extra mile with detailed vehicle diagnostics, real-time alerts for risky driving, extensive reporting capabilities, preemptive maintenance notifications, and additional features.

Why you should install ELDs in your fleet

With an ELD, fleet owners and managers can collect, monitor, and analyze data, as well as gain insights about the following.

HOS and RODS

HOS refers to the number of hours a driver has operated their vehicle. The ELD mandate requires HOS records so that fleet operators can keep tired drivers from driving and causing potential crashes.

CalAmp automatically collects driving logs

In the US, HOS regulations limit commercial drivers to a maximum of 11 hours of driving time and require at least one 30-minute break every eight hours. There are also weekly limits, where drivers can’t operate for more than 60 hours for seven consecutive days.

Records of Duty Status (RODS) is a driver’s log containing details such as the date, vehicle information, total driving hours, number of miles driven in the last 24 hours, and driver’s certification.

Your fleet management system needs to have ELD metrics, so operators know when drivers are nearing the HOS limit.

IFTA Fuel Tax Compliance

Qualified fleet vehicles must adhere to the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). IFTA is an agreement among member states to collect, share, and redistribute fuel taxes paid by motor carriers.

IFTA reporting is mandatory, and drivers must record fuel purchases, usage, and mileage. ELDs and the right telematics solution can help automatically create detailed IFTA tax reports to make filing and compliance easier. This saves owners from unnecessary audits.

Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting

A Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) is mandatory before and after each trip to identify potential mechanical issues and safety concerns.

CalAmp simplifies DVIR data collection

The right ELD can simplify report generation for drivers and technicians using pre-populated checklists.

CalAmp’s integrated ELD lets drivers add notes, photos, and DTC codes. It also captures audit logs to provide clarity on vehicle conditions. Operators and mechanics can use this data to improve fleet health and address any issues.

CSA scores

Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores are part of the FMCSA’s safety compliance and enforcement program. They aim to hold drivers and vehicle carriers accountable for road safety.

The organization conducts roadside inspections and considers factors like the number and severity of safety violations, when those violations were recorded, the number of vehicles in a fleet, and any acute or critical violations that have occurred.

ELDs are crucial for companies to record good CSA scores since they help record data that could boost safety and compliance.

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate?

According to the FMCSA, the following drivers and vehicles are exempt from the ELD mandate:

  • Commercial drivers who qualify for the short-haul exemption.
  • Vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.
  • Drivers who only conduct driveaway-towaway operations.
  • Drivers with a RODS for eight days or fewer within any 30 day period.
  • Vehicles used for agricultural purposes.

What data does an ELD collect?

An ELD logs the following information:

  • Engine power and vehicle motion status: When the engine is turned on and for how long, along with when and how long it idles. This information helps with HOS compliance and prevents overworking and even potential risks like theft.
  • Number of miles driven: The number of miles a vehicle was driven during a specific period. This allows operators to stick to HOS limits.
  • Total engine hours: The number of hours an engine was used during a specific period. Drivers and managers can use this to back up their RODS reports.
  • Driver information: Details about the driver and their certifications, which helps with DVIR recording.
  • Vehicle details: Information about the vehicle, the motor carrier, and other authorized users, such as fleet operators or mechanics.

Using a modern ELD with an advanced fleet solution, like the CalAmp Application, also gives you access to the following data:

  • GPS locations: Operators gain end-to-end fleet visibility by tracking the real-time location of every fleet vehicle. They can use this to provide more accurate ETAs to customers, track deviances from a designated route, and boost fleet management.
  • Fuel consumption: Fleet managers can collect up-to-date records on fuel consumption that help track and optimize fuel usage to reduce operational costs.
  • Engine speed: Operators can track the current driving speed of any fleet vehicle and use this information to monitor safe driving.
  • Engine fault codes: Any engine fault codes recorded by a fleet vehicle are displayed on the software. Operators can send vehicles for repair as soon as issues arise.
  • Driving behavior: Operators receive instant notifications about dangerous driving behavior, like harsh braking, speeding, hard cornering, and tailgating, detected using advanced AI technology. They can also communicate with the driver to coach and correct them.
  • Crash incidents: Managers get immediate notifications when an accident occurs. They can use video-based safety to collect videos recorded before, during, and after the incident, vehicle diagnostics, driver information and any essential details. All of this protects the company and driver, helps investigators and prevents false claims.

On CalAmp, all of this is bolstered by historical fleet records and extensive data organization capabilities. This added context can help operators make informed decisions and improve their fleet.

7 benefits of using an ELD

Here is why every fleet owner, manager, and operator needs an ELD as part of their fleet management system.

The advantages of using ELDs

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Comply with regulation standards

An ELD enables fleet operators to meet compliance standards by automatically maintaining driver logs and collecting data about the vehicle.

Whether it’s a short route for a local delivery vehicle or a long-haul trucking route, operators can track exactly where the truck is, how long it’s been on the road, and other important information with the CalAmp Application.

For example, operators can use the HOS dashboard to see all active drivers, their duty status, when breaks are needed, the current ruleset for each driver, and clock counters that change colors based on the next possible violation.

Collect HOS records using CalAmp

All of this information is collected on one software, thus streamlining recording and filling HOS, RODS, DVIR, and other factors related to compliance.

Since the data is logged automatically, operators and drivers can use a good fleet solution to stick to FMCSA guidelines without hindering productivity or safety.

2. Increase fuel efficiency

Automated data collection related to fuel purchases and usage simplifies IFTA filings. Fuel tracking can also help fleet owners and operators reduce operational costs.

An operator who can see exactly how much fuel is consumed on a particular route and create a more efficient one to save time and money. Shorter or faster routes can ensure drivers get their work done faster with fewer resources.

Operators can also track idle times for each driver with the CalAmp Application and create idling reports. Drivers recording extensive idling times can be sent for additional training.

3. Streamline fleet maintenance

Owners and operators can use data from ELD devices to increase the lifecycle of fleet vehicles and maximize uptime. More uptime means more availability, which enables operators to enhance performance, boost service deliveries, and keep customers happy.

Mileage, fuel usage, engine diagnostics, and engine fault codes clearly depict vehicle health and prompt preemptive maintenance. For example, operators can schedule maintenance based on a vehicle’s mileage or hours-of-use.

Moreover, integrating ELD data with diagnostic vehicle information from fleet management systems like the CalAmp Application, gives fleet managers regular maintenance alerts, allowing them to keep vehicles in shape.

A mismatch between two areas of vehicular data, such as engine and fuel data, can indicate vehicular issues that operators can act on immediately.

4. Boost fleet safety

ELDs integrated with fleet telematics solutions can help enforce safety guidelines and boost overall fleet safety.

Operators can set up alerts for harsh driving, such as speeding or tailgating, and coach drivers to maintain better safety standards on the road. Alerts on their mobile devices can help them take instant action from anywhere.

CalAmp provides immediate driving alerts

Video-based safety solutions paired with ELDs can help operators monitor driver behavior with driver-facing footage in real time, and they can immediately intervene when patterns of risky behavior occur.

These features allow owners to maintain safety standards, prevent collisions, limit legal liability in case of accidents, and save thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees.

5. Automate payroll

ELDs collect and log all the data required for payroll, including the hours driven and the record of duty status. This reduces administrative work and automates payroll management.

Managers don’t have to spend hours manually collecting and transferring data from one system to another or rely on self-reports by drivers. They can simply integrate their fleet telematics solution into their payroll software and automate the most laborious parts of the work process.

Preparing for audits is also easier since each payment and the related data are recorded and stored in a cloud platform like the CalAmp Telematics Cloud.

6. Improve reporting

Fleet owners and operators can enhance reporting by unifying ELD data with fleet management data. Unified data allows them to see the whole picture and manage supply chain logistics operations from one software.

For example, CalAmp’s ELD automatically collects fuel and mileage-related data. This data is accessible on its fleet management application and can be used to streamline IFTA tax reporting. It can also help operators reduce fuel-related expenses via better route-planning or upgrading inefficient fleet vehicles.

Combining ELD and fleet telematics data simplifies compliance and shows operators all the data they need to garner vital insights that can improve their fleet.

Integrated data also speeds up decision-making, which is crucial since delayed decisions and implementation can hinder productivity and increase expenses.

7. Avoid conflict

For a fleet to work correctly, drivers need to trust operators and vice versa. Distrust or conflict among fleet personnel can lead to poor decision-making, delays, or errors that can cost a company dearly.

Owners can avoid this conflict by implementing ELDs, which provide reliable and factual data on every vehicle and driver. This leads to no doubt about hours worked or falsified reports.

Removing these doubts provides a better driver experience. So does using a fleet telematics app that makes it more convenient for drivers to log their HOS and RODS records. Drivers can also edit their records with the approval of the operators. The software shows both edited records and rejected edits for accurate reporting.

How to choose an ELD solution

There are a wide variety of electronic logging devices on the market, making it difficult to find the right one for your fleet.

How to choose the best ELD

Here are five essential features to look out for when choosing an ELD for your fleet.

1. FMCSA certification

In the US, manufacturers' ELDs are certified through various processes that ensure they meet FMCSA guidelines. FMCSA certification indicates that the devices work as intended for commercial vehicles.

CalAmp partners with assured Techmatics to provide the apollo ELD solution that’s certified by the FMCSA, the Minister of Transport for Canada and by the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) for Mexico. The apollo ELD integrated with CalAmp’s fleet telematics device makes reporting, compliance, and safety management effortless.

2. Real-time tracking

In addition to engine diagnostics and driver information, your ELD must provide near real-time GPS tracking so operators can better monitor their fleet.

While ELDs can show data, you need tracking to provide context and make the data actionable.

Let’s say a fleet truck shows unusual fuel usage. To confirm that the driver is deviating from the route, driving poorly, or reacting to external circumstances, operators need to see where the vehicle is and the route the driver is taking.

Without tracking, the data collected by an ELD is just numbers and names. But with tracking, there’s proof.

3. Easy to install and use

The ELD you choose should be durable and easy to install. CalAmp’s ELD, for example, is a sleek 7” and drop-resistant. It also has an IP54 rating for dust and water.

CalAmp has intuitive and dynamic ELDs

Besides surviving long journeys in potentially rough conditions, your ELD or tablet must be easy to learn and simple to use.

4. Unified fleet management platform

Compliance is crucial for fleets, as are productivity, scheduling, maintenance, and driver management. So your ELD must be one feature of a comprehensive fleet management solution like the CalAmp Application.

The CalAmp Application is the most comprehensive platform to see driver, vehicle, and location data in near real time. Dash cam footage and asset tracking capabilities can also be integrated into one application for a unified view of your entire fleet operations. This system is used by industry-leading companies across the US and Canada.

 Use CalAmp for unified fleet management

A fleet telematics solution helps operators collect data, get actual insights, and implement steps to boost efficiency.

Otherwise, they’re left stranded trying to understand different data from different sources like manual logs or a set of individual apps for multiple functions.

5. Integrations

Your ELD software must integrate with industry-leading payroll and fleet management tools. Without integration, operators must manually collate data from varying systems and infer insights that way.

Integration of ELD, diagnostic, location and driver behavior data takes the guesswork out of fleet management, giving fleet managers end-to-end visibility of their fleet operations in a single screen view. All the vital data is collected on one platform and displayed in an intuitive application that enables reporting based on your workflows.

Integration also streamlines work processes like payroll and maintenance by speeding them up and taking manual reporting out of the workflow. Consequently, operators save resources and increase fleet efficiency.

Conclusion

ELD devices are a must for most fleet vehicles. They help maintain compliance with FMCSA guidelines related to HOS and RODS, while allowing fleet owners to increase safety, vehicle longevity, and fleet productivity.

Operators can use CalAmp ELD solutions and a fleet telematics application to make informed decisions on the go and keep their fleets running smoothly.

You can learn more ELDs and how they can improve your fleet by booking a demo today.

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